Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Album Review - Wild

by Amanda Rogers (out now)

Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Amanda Palmer. I'm a fan of singer-songwriters who create piano driven music with a certain rock and roll edge. Artists that deal in this particular musical wheelhouse tend to win me over with their ability to wear many different faces or play a wide variety of roles in their music. The energetic front and musical force of nature 'character' comes just as easily to them as the brokenhearted mess on the bathroom floor or the quirky weirdo, the villain, the hero. They take that saying 'Jack of all trades, master of none' and blow it to high hell. They usually put words together in a way that leaves you scratching your head at how no one had thought to do the same thing before. And they usually speak to you in a way that most performers could only dream of. Amanda Rogers ticks all of those boxes with her 9th album Wild, an ambitious double album that will undoubtedly earn a lot of love from fans old and new.

I sadly fit into the 'new' category of Rogers' fans, so there's a lot to catch up on from this Syracuse, NY native. "I'm a ten cent songbird, my heart and soul done take a turn, in a jukebox spinner, I'm a lowdown singer, begging for my dinner, I'm a saint gone sinner, with my dimes dimes dimes." While 'Welcome To The Show' theatrically opens the album, it's '10c Songbird' that introduces us to Amanda Rogers. She wears her heart on her sleeve on a track that grows from humble beginnings into a heavier sounds that weaves the piano around some roaring guitars. If I had a lighter on me I'd be lighting that bad boy up and throwing it in the air like I just don't care. You'll feel like its the 90s all over again and I say that with the intentions of it being a huge compliment. To go from that to the gorgeous, bluesy sounds of 'Walking' should be jarring, but Rogers shifts gears with ease. Think Bonnie Raitt by way of Norah Jones.

Rogers jumps between conventional genres, switching up the pace and showing a new side on so many of the tracks. The poppier vibes of 'Honey You'll Be' lead straight into the jazzier 'More, More, More'. With double albums, the larger track list makes it easier to pick favourites. Sad, but true. Sad is something I go for and the track 'Sad Song' earned a lot of replay from me. It's borderline anthemic with Rogers telling us, "a sad song rights the ocean of wrongs, I keep on singing it, I keep on listening. The vocal performance on 'Sweet Sleep' is also incredibly easy to fall for. That Raitt-ish piano returns on the track too and I'm going to say you just don't hear enough of that kind of piano sound anymore. '10 Years Closer' highlights Rogers' strengths as a songwriter and reveals much of her journey up until now. I could be way off, but the words are telling the story of an artist that continues to fight to create. "There was a sound that I'd forgotten in me, and I never minded the thoughts they pulled from me, and I never meant to be exactly what they'd see, and I never mean to be what they'd see... see the life I'm bleeding see me crawling back for more."

Listening to nineteen tracks should be quite laborious, but Rogers finds new ways to reward you for persevering. The final (and title) track, 'Wild', is the album's best. The connection Rogers builds in what comes before pays off in such an awesome way with this last song. It's an arresting pop anthem you'll immediately want to listen to and then once you've finished you'll want to listen to it again. The music, the vocals, the words... everything comes together for a beautiful and memorable finish. Amanda Rogers? She is one singer-songwriter I want to hear a lot more of and I'm looking forward to going back over her 15 year career. She's the right mix of passion, ambition and artistry for me. Singer-songwriter fans are going to feel the same.

"Every woman every man, where the sky meets the land, dream between every place you stand, and you'll feel wild."  

Matt Bond gives Wild four Beatles heads out of five...

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